She's the glue.
M E E T F A R M E R R H O N D A
Farmer Rhonda Dortch moved to West Virginia from North Carolina in 2011. She singlehandedly manages a small goat dairy with dairy goats and cows, a handmade soap business, pastured heritage meat chickens, turkeys, endangered Ancona Ducks, heritage non gmo dent and flint corns, heirloom popcorn, organic vegetables, and five working dogs. That is a lot for one person to keep up with but Rhonda manages it like she has been doing it all her life.
Ever since she was a kid growing up in urban Illinois, she knew she wanted to farm and work with animals. That’s why today her work may seem like a lot for one person, but Rhonda does it with the grace and ease of someone who truly enjoys her work.
Rhonda makes all this work look easy because of her cheerful demeanor and the big smile on her face. Rhonda loves how helpful and friendly the locals are and she is interested in bartering and trading for goods and services. There are only a few things that she does not produce on the farm or cannot trade for. Her goal is to keep increasing the fertility of the land so she doesn’t have to outsource a thing.
A B O U T B L U E S T O N E M O U N T A I N S O A P C O M P A N Y
Bluestone Mountain Soap Company started in 2006. Rhonda makes the highest quality soaps with goat’s milk, essential oils, fresh herbs, vegetable oils and lard. “Lard makes an extremely good cleaner, I use it in my Poison Ivy and Coal Miners soap bar.” Her soap products are very diverse and specialized; she has a bar for eczema, blemishes, shaving, shampoo, and one for falling in love (ok, you might need more than soap to pull this off!)
A B O U T B L U E S T O N E M O U N T A I N F A R M
In addition to the soap business Farmer Rhonda has expanded her Greenbrier Valley Grown certified poultry operation. She raises critically endangered heritage Ancona Ducks, beautiful black and white speckled ducks with higher protein egg yolks and 25% bigger than chicken eggs. It took her five years to find Anconas and now she is working on a breeding program to help get the breed off the critically endangered list. For meat birds, Bluestone Mountain Farm (BMF) raises a heritage bird developed in France for the La Belle Rouge free range organic system. These birds are raised on open range fields of clovers and grasses. They are fed a custom feed blend with organic supplements and goats milk. They have especially flavorful meat and skin and are rich in omega oils from grazing. BMF customers can rest assured that they are eating a clean product raised in the best circumstances possible, because Farmer Rhonda's eggs and chickens are Animal Welfare Approved. [Learn more about what it means to be Animal Welfare Approved by CLICKING HERE.]
There are a few other animals living on the 15 acre rotating pasture, Mr. Frizzle—a crazy looking fluffy feathered rooster, Buttercup the Irish Dexter, Betty Lou a Holstein/Jersey , pure white Embden geese which protect the flock and 5 working dogs.
Yet another project of Rhonda’s, alongside soap and poultry, is growing heirloom dent and flint corn. With this idea, Rhonda won the pitch competition at the New River Gorge Entrepreneurs' Cafe in Hinton in 2014. BMF is one of the few farms growing the beautiful, colorful variety called Daymon Morgan's Kentucky Butcher and Painted Moutain. In the fall of 2014, Bloody Butcher will be one of the first heirloom varieties stone ground into cornmeal and grits. BMF is looking to purchase a portable gristmill to grind the corn into cornmeal, and a grinder/mixer/feed mill to crack and grind the corn for animal feed. She will also sell the seed to keep this heirloom variety alive.